Last weekend’s Labor Party conference saw the overturning of Australia’s long-standing ban on selling uranium to India. The sale of uranium has been a particularly divisive topic, and at one time news headlines in Australia were dominated by those protesting No Nukes.
The argument against the sale of uranium consists primarily of the fact that India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Additional is that India has been in a state of sustained conflict with its nuclear neighbour, Pakistan, and so Australia’s sale of uranium has the potential to be a component of a nuclear conflict.
India’s history on this issue is not exemplary having gained its nuclear weapons status via somewhat deceptive methods. One has to also question why, if India’s intention is to use uranium for peaceful purposes only, why will India not sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
No reason during the current debate has been forthcoming, at least none that I could discern.
One should also wonder just how Australia would be able to supervise the ‘strict conditions’ imposed on India, supposedly in place to guard our uranium from other than approved uses.
However, in the name of balance and fairness here are two of the pro-uranium sale arguments:
This was expressed South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill who stated that Australia should promote nuclear power in developing countries as a way of tackling climate change as this would help India reduce its use of more polluting fuels such as coal.
“Nations like India, who are seeking to expand rapidly, if they don’t have access to non-fossil fuel sources of energy are going to make a dramatic contribution to climate change,” he said.
One could suggest to Mr Weatherill that solar panels and biofuels cannot have the potential dangers as does the sale of uranium.
Weatherill added, “”What I stand for is standing up for South Australia’s interests…”, which one would have to suspect, gets to the core of the matter.
Defence and Why TF Not:
It was up to Defence Minister Stephen Smith to advance the argument for this one which mostly consisted of Why TF not.
~ that India is an “emerging super power”. I am not certain why this would be on the plus side of selling uranium to any country.
The statement from Smith included:
“This is the best way of making sure that India … As it takes its rightful place as the largest democracy and one of the three countries that are emerging as a super power in this century — US, China and India — has voluntarily agreed to go under governance of International Atomic Energy Agency. That’s a good thing. That’s a progress. That’s improvement.”
“This whole game changed in 2008-09 when India agreed to place itself under the International Atomic energy agency and under Nuclear Suppliers Group. And what has occurred as a result of that is that for the first time we have India under that regulation and that is the essential fundamental point to those who don’t agree with this decision (of Labor),” Smith said.
Smith said India has made it clear that it will not sign the NPT and international community has come to accept that and that was why in 2008-2009 the IAEA and NSG agreed that it was best to place India under the governance of the international civil nuclear regulators.
Australia’s decision to sell uranium to India is certain make business interests delighted. Could this push to sell uranium to India have been something to do with the impending super-profits Mining Tax? A compensation prize, and a very substantial one.
Is this an important decision about one of the fastest growing nations in our region, a wise business decision or an encouragement to allow the proliferation of nuclear arms to a country which has been at war with it’s neighbor Pakistan, and on a regular basis since the partition of British India?